If you are a regular reader, you’ll remember that we gave a gushing review for Archer & Armstrong #1. As the second issue just hit the stands, we got in contact with writer Fred Van Lente to talk about the origins of his involvement with the new Valiant line and even managed to squeeze out a few hints about where the series is headed. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ricardo: Fred, let’s start wide and narrow in to the two issues released so far. What drew you to Valiant? More specifically, what drew you to Archer & Armstrong ?
Fred Van Lente: Valiant approached me at New York Comic Con last year and asked if I’d be interested in “Archer & Armstrong.” I said “of course” while simultaneously thinking “What the hell is ‘Archer & Armstrong?'” (Welcome to life as a freelancer.) After reading the original BWS and hearing Executive Editor Warren Simons about his love for the characters, I realized how lucky I was to have been asked. The series is steeped in satire, history and conspiracy theories, three of my favorite things. So I took to it like the proverbial duck to water.
Ricardo: What have you done to make these characters fresh and different from their original incarnation?
FVL: I think at the core they’re the same, but there are some distinct updates. I wasn’t terribly comfortable making Archer a Hare Krishna, a religion I know very little about, but for plot reasons we decided Archer should be trained by devout Christians from Ohio — just like I was! We developed the satirical elements of a Creationist theme park, and some of our parallels to modern day politics, and so on.
Armstrong is a lot more similar, but less of a bum and more of a bon vivant here. My conceit is that he wanted to be a poet, but when people are trying to kill you for 10,000 years you have no choice but to become a warrior. So he’s a bit more sophisticated than the original. But, you know, he still gets hammered and throws up on people and chases strippers and such. (laughs)
Ricardo: A lot of the pre-release buzz came from the extremely cool David Aja designs. Did those designs stem from your take on the characters or did you craft them around the look he gave them?
FVL: They’re great aren’t they? No, they were in place before I came on board. The only thing I’d want to change is the crossbow. I know it’s from the original series but BWS dropped that aspect pretty quick. I am not a fan of bow-based heroes in the modern era. Good luck, CW!
Ricardo: While the story seems historically and mythologically dense, you’ve also snuck in copious amounts of humor. How have you been able to differentiate this title from your hilarious and similarly-themed Incredible Hercules run?
FVL: Hercules and Amadeus Cho had a hero/sidekick, mentor/mentee relationship. This is more of a traditional buddy comedy in which two completely mismatched characters start out absolutely hating each other — indeed, with Archer trying to kill Armstrong — and how their uniting against a common foe in the Sect causes their friendship to grow and strengthen over time.
Ricardo: We see that Archer is very close with his adopted siblings. Will we be seeing them again soon? If so, are any of them similarly gifted with special abilities? Mary-Maria?
FVL: Ooh, you’re gonna like #3!
Ricardo: With the second issue being released today, we see the introduction of expert marks-nun Sister Thomas Aquinas. Is ‘Tommy’, as Armstrong affectionately refers to her, going to be a recurring character?
FVL: Ooh… Maybe you’re not gonna like #3…
Ricardo: We get a full introduction into the ‘Six Elementary Devices’. Is it safe to say that these (and the object they make) will be the main thrust of the series? Will they tie into the larger Valiant Universe as a whole?
FVL: They’re certainly the thrust of this arc, and they’re very important to the creation of the three Anni-Padda brothers, Armstrong, Eternal Warrior, and Timewalker, so in that sense they’re a huge part of the VU. But I don’t want readers to get too complacent thinking they know what’s coming next. Half the fun of A&A is its unpredictable nature, and I can guarantee you we have even more crazy and fun stuff waiting around the corner.
Ricardo: Speaking of the larger universe, will we see A&A cross paths with any other Valiant heroes?
FVL: Yes. There’s a specific connection between Obadiah Archer and not one, but two of the current titles that we’ll be getting to sooner rather than later.
Ricardo: How has it been working with your former Incredible Hercules collaborator, Clayton Henry?
FVL: An absolute thrill. I can’t tell you how many lines of dialogue I’ve decided to cut because Clayton nailed the expression of the characters so well words weren’t necessary. I hope he stays on this title forever, he’s one of my favorite collaborators.
Ricardo: Lastly, Albino Ninja Nuns? What other goodness can we expect?
FVL: Nazi Lamas? Appearances by one (or more) of Aram’s brothers? The greatest bus\rickshaw chase in comics history? Fat jokes? Drunk jokes? ALL OF THE ABOVE?!?!?
Archer & Armstrong #2 was released on 9/5/12. For more by Fred Van Lente, visit his site at www.fredvanlente.com. For more Valiant comics, please visit www.valiantuniverse.com